Women for Women International

In countries affected by conflict and war, Women for Women International supports the most marginalized women to earn and save money, improve health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community, and connect to networks for support. By utilizing skills, knowledge, and resources, she is able to create sustainable change for herself, her family, and community.
May 13, 2009

CIFI Program launched in Rwanda

The Women for Women recently began a Commercially Integrated Farming Initiative (CIFI) in Rwanda. The CIFI program will train and enable women to grow and Market a variety of crops on community land that was formerly unused. The program will increase food security and nutritional variety for the farming women and their communities that traditionally rely on animal protein and limited varieties of vegetables.

CIFI began in Kayonza, with 40 hectares of land that have been leased for 45 years by Kayonza district authorities. The Mayor of the Kicukiro District, William Ntidendereza, was present at the opening ceremony, and he applauded the initiative.

CIFI is a cooperative income generation model that will not only increase local food production and bring down food prices, it will also decrease the demand for outside assistance by empowering women,” says Karen Sherman, Women for Women International Executive Director of Global Programs. “This initiative will put women in charge of the food chain and positively affect their families and communities.”

May 13, 2009

WWI Country Directors Brief Congress on Development Efforts

Country Directors and staff on Capitol Hill
Country Directors and staff on Capitol Hill

On February 3rd Women for Women International's Africa country directors briefed House Foreign Affairs Committee staff on program efforts to combat pervasive rural poverty and the global food crisis by training socially-excluded women in Africa on profitable, market-based farming techniques. As development policy begins to refocus its attention on agriculture, Women for Women practitioners attested to the importance of community-level development practices that empower women.

In Rwanda and Sudan, two countries where many are eating one meal per day or less, Women for Women is piloting a Commercial Integrated Farming Initiative that will link 6,000 women farmers to profitable markets so that they might feed their families and communities and earn an income. “Sudan lacks everything,” said country director Karak Mayik, “food especially. Food is another war for us. It is my hope that with CIFI we can go from dependence on food aid to having food to share.”

Apr 18, 2009

Update: Two Women in Afghanistan

Noor and Malai's Story

Afghan women are determined for their daughters to have more and better choices in their lives. Noor was just 12 years old when she was married to a man 28 years her senior. Today, at age 35, she has nine children. Four are daughters, and Noor is determined they will have a different kind of future. Through Women for Women International’s vocational training program Noor has learned skills that will help her earn extra income, which she plans to use to pay for her daughters’ school expenses.

In 2008, a total of 4,434 Afghan women enrolled in Women for Women International’s yearlong sponsorship program. Women receive letters and financial support from their sponsors. They meet in groups of 20 for rights awareness training facilitated by local women. They learn to read and write. Some are trained as health and traditional birth attendants. Women entrepreneurs can learn vocational and business skills and have access to small loans which they pay back as their projects grow.

Like Noor, most women begin the program illiterate and with no way to earn money. These obstacles, along with traditional views about gender roles, keep women from realizing their full potential.

In the evenings when the housework is complete, Noor shares with her daughters what she has learned through her trainings – not just work skills and literacy, but also about the rights of women as documented in their nation’s constitution.

Before her Women for Women International training Malai, age 20, didn’t know she had the right to participate in elections. Neither did her husband. To help Afghan men understand how the advancement of women has a positive effect on families and communities, Women for Women International launched the Men’s Leadership Program in 2008. So far, 20 male community leaders have been trained to instruct their peers about the negative effects of restricting women’s participation in economic and social spheres.

Though progress is slow and difficult, Noor is dreaming, “I wish for my daughter to finish school and then marry a man she loves.” Some women have already made life-changing decisions. Raissa negotiated with her daughter’s future in-laws that they will allow her to complete her education. “I think my daughter will have a happy life in the future.”

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